Tying Mayflies: Dry Flies/Duns and Spinners

One of the long running questions about tying dry flies...especially mayflies is "What is most important thing? Is it the proportion, the color or the size of the fly? I am not sure of the answer and neither are you. If there was a clear answer, we would all know it by now.

Mike Lawson, in his book "Spring Creeks" discusses these things in some detail. On page 216 in the section "Choosing the Right Fly", Mike says that the single most important factor in getting a selective trout to eat your fly is it's "position" in the water. He explains that the surface of the water is "a thin firm layer called the meniscus, which helps keeps insects floating on the surface or holds them just under the surface" He goes on to say "the correct size, color and shape of a fly will not matter much with selective spring creek trout if the fly is not in the right position on, in or under the surface". I do know this...when I am fishing to highly selective trout like on the Henry's Fork I am very particular about how the fly rides on the water. For instance, it I am fishing an emerger, I will only apply floatant to the front portion of the fly. I want the tail of the fly sitting down in the surface film and I want the head and wings of the fly to be on the surface. It does make a difference...

I guess the answer to the question I originally posed is "It depends..." I do, however, think that it all matters to some degree so if you are tying flies, you should try to pay attention to all of these aspects...proportion, size and color. So, let's move along.

Dry fly proportions - this is the relationship between the different parts of a dry fly (tail, abdomen, wings, etc.) to each other. I think most knowledgeable fly tiers would say that the proportion of the wings and tail to the hook are the most important. To a large extent, this determines how the fly will sit on the water.

Dry Fly Proportions - article by Charlie Craven Fly Fisherman Magazine

For specific mayfly patterns...please go here...

Dry Fly Proportions

Dry fly proportions

credit: Charlie Craven (Fly Fisherman Magazine)